Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The church to speak nothing but His Word

Calvin's Institutes (1559)
Book 4 of 4 - External Means by which God Invites Us into the Society of Christ and Holds Us Therein

Chapter 8 - the Power of the Church
1-9 - Church power limited by the Word of God
1. The power of the church is in individual ministers and in general or regional councils. It is spiritual power to teach doctrine, make church law, and jurisdiction in applying church law. Church power is to edify, not destroy - 2 Cor 10:8; 13:10; 1 Cor 4:1. Ministers can only build up the Church if they leave with Christ His authority to teach all - Matt 17:5. "The power of the church is therefore to be not grudgingly manifested but yet to be kept within definite limits." If we give men whatever power they feel they should have, we will soon have tyranny.
2. Men do not receive authority personally, but only to carry out the office "in the name and Word of the Lord." Moses did this - Ex 3:4. They are to teach the law - Deut 17:9-13; Mal 2:4-7. "If the priest wishes to be heard, let him show himself to be God's messenger."
3. God does not allow anyone to teach more than He has commanded." Ezek 3:17; Jer 23:28.
4. The NT apostles could not "prate whatever they please." Matt 28:19-20. "The power of the church, therefore, is not infinite but subject to the Lord's Word and, as it were, enclosed within it."
5. "God has never manifested Himself to men in any other way than through the Son." But "this Wisdom has not always manifested itself in one way." God's revelation has a single source and a cohesive unity, but the form has varied greatly from the patriarchs to the present.
6. The priests were to teach only the Word - Mal 2:7; 4:4; Deut 4:2; 5:32; 13:1. The prophets brought the Word to the people. The Word is perfect - Ps 19:7ff - and taught us to "yearn for no [other] foreign thing, since all perfection was contained in it."
7. Jesus is the final and fulfilled revelation of God - Heb 1:1-2. We shouldn't expect God to add to it in these "latter days" - 1 Jn 2:18; 1 Tim 4:1; 1 Pet 1:20; Acts 2:17; 2 Tim 3:1; 2 Pet 3:3. In Matt 17:5 God "conduct[s] us to His Son alone" for instruction. We should "hearken to His voice alone," for "after Himself He left nothing for others to say."
8. The only Word of God is the OT law and prophets and the NT apostles. Matt 28:19-20; 23:8-10; John 16:13; 14:26.
9. The apostles, like us, are to "do all things in God's Word." See 1 Pet 4:11; 2 Cor 10:4-5. Even they didn't have "dominion over [Christians'] faith" 2 Cor 1:24. Any prophecy was to be tested - 1 Cor 14:29-30. The object of faith is found in God's Word - Rom 10:17. God alone is our teacher, as He alone is true - Rom 3:4.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Quite devoid of religion

Calvin's Institutes (1559)
Book 4 of 4 - External Means by which God Invites Us into the Society of Christ and Holds Us Therein

Chapter 7 - History of the Papacy: From origin to current oppressive state
23-30 - the later papacy
23. Rome is not the primary bishop, even if they once were, because the Roman bishop is not a true bishop according to the mark of the church.
24. Rome used to be mother of churches but has apostatized, grasping for power, persecuting the true church.
25. The pope is the antichrist of 2 Thess. 2:3-7, especially verse 4, sitting in God's temple boasting and blaspheming.
26. "The papacy itself is directly contrary to church order."
27. The recent popes have shown themselves by their lives to be practical atheists.
28. Even if they "betrayed it only in table, in bedchamber, or at least within walls," there is John XXII's error that "souls are mortal and die along with bodies until the day of resurrection."
29. Churchmen live with reckless moral abandon at Rome while popes wink and nod at them. If Rome used to be the head of the church, she is no longer "worthy of being regarded among the smallest toes of the church's feet."
30. Office of cardinal was equal to bishop, when Gregory first mentions it, but now it surpasses bishop, somehow. Malachi 2:8-9 applies to Rome: "But you have departed from the way; you have caused many to stumble at the law. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi,” says the Lord of hosts. “Therefore I also have made you contemptible and base before all the people, because you have not kept My ways, but have shown partiality in the law.”

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Nothing but the world

Calvin's Institutes (1559)
Book 4 of 4 - External Means by which God Invites Us into the Society of Christ and Holds Us Therein

Chapter 7 - History of the Papacy: From origin to current oppressive state
19-22 - Recent papal claims contradict Gregory's
19. Rome today claims to have jurisdiction over every case in all the church. The worst is that they say no one has the right to review Rome's judgments.
20. Flimsy forgeries lay claim ("with an unrestrained fury and tyranny like that of barbarian kings") to Rome's jurisdiction over all the church, that the pope cannot err and is above councils.
21. Cyprian said Rome was not bishop of bishops or first bishop. Gregory forbade the very title of universal bishop that Rome now claims. He forbade others to ask him to command them. To other bishops he said, "In degree you are my brothers; in moral character, my fathers."
22. Today's papacy [of Calvin's day] is "a hundred times more corrupt" than in Bernard's day. "What depravity is this," in Rome where there is "no preaching, no care for discipline, no zeal toward the churches, no spiritual activity - in short, nothing but the world." Asserting the papacy is like praising freedom in order to advance tyranny.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Good Gentlemen... not!

Calvin's Institutes (1559)
Book 4 of 4 - External Means by which God Invites Us into the Society of Christ and Holds Us Therein

Chapter 7 - History of the Papacy: From origin to current oppressive state
11-18 - Fifth and sixth century papal corruption
11. Rome produced a lot of forged documents, trying to prove its authority over other bishops. Most of these are easy to see through. Leo did vaunt himself over other bishops, and "many were offended by his ambition."
12. As the Roman empire became more unstable, bishops in the empire looked to Rome more closely. Gregory said when no bishop is at fault they are all equal, and did not punish those who protested Rome's claim to unique authority.
13. Gregory didn't claim any more authority over other bishops than he put himself under. He was distressed over how much his office was given to secular affairs, unlike the Roman bishops today.
14. Rome and Constantinople fought over primacy. The rule of primacy basically followed whatever city was primary in the empire's civil government. But when this transferred to Constantinople, Pope Innocent changed that, to keep it at Rome.
15. Leo tried to prevent the first council of Constantinople from declaring Constantinople second after Rome. He was the only who protested among 600 bishops. "What but sheer ambition, I pray, could stir the man to trouble the world with such a trifle?"
16. When Constantinople's bishop later called himself "universal bishop," Roman bishop Gregory protested on principle, not just to have the title himself. That phrase, the Roman bishop back then said, is "a word of proud address that I have forbidden."
17. A usurper to emperor-ship in the roman empire gave Boniface III to be head of all the churches. From then on the pope and emperor, like "good gentlemen," carved up unstable parts of the empire and gave them to each other. [Charlemagne was crowned emperor by the pope in 800AD]
18. Things deteriorated from there, with other bishops "did not strive to restrain his ambition as zealously as they should have. And, though they did not lack courage, they were destitute of true learning and knowledge, so that they were quite unfit to attempt so great a task." Bernard shows how bad things got, Rome handing out offices of authority and spoils of them as "the ambitious, the greedy, the simoniacs, the sacrilegious, the keepers of concubines, the incestuous, and all such monsters... converge upon Rome... to obtain or retain churchly honors by apostolic authority."

Monday, September 21, 2009

How far from supreme dominion Rome was

Calvin's Institutes (1559)
Book 4 of 4 - External Means by which God Invites Us into the Society of Christ and Holds Us Therein

Chapter 7 - History of the Papacy: From origin to current oppressive state
1-10 - Early limited authority
1. Not until the Nicean Council was anything said about Rome's primacy, and there their delegates were not given first position when seated, nor did they demand it.
2. When Rome does first preside, at Chalcedon, its bishop points out this is extraordinary, due to the failings of other bishops. After Chalcedon, other cities' bishops presided.
3. Proud titles like "primate," or "supreme pontiff" were unknown or disapproved in the early church. Jerome said the greatness of the city, wealth or poverty don't make a greater bishop.
4. Gregory resisted the title "universal bishop," since if he fell, the whole church would. It was full of self-exaltation, in his mind.
5. When Athanasius was expelled by the Arians, he appealed to Rome for help. This was a good cause, but set a bad precedent, and bad men continued appealing to Rome when they were justly disciplined. Rome too eagerly took this role.
6. Church authority beyond the local congregation is fourfold: 1. ordaining bishops, 2. calling councils, 3. hearing appeals, 4. censure. On ordination, Rome at first sent delegates to the ordination of other big-city bishops, only out "of fellowship, not of lordship." Rome didn't preside.
7. On censure, bishops gave and received admonition mutually. Rome was no exception.
8. On calling councils, each bishop could call a regional council, but no bishop could call a universal council - only the emperor could do that.
9. On hearing appeals, Rome did hear some brought forward by others. But when Rome over-reached its authority Gaul and Africa especially resisted. Rome even forged council documents, trying to extend its authority!
10. Appeals went to the emperor, not the Roman bishop. The emperor would give it to several bishops in committee, and when Rome had sole appeal once, the emperor had another bishop review Rome's decision.

Friday, September 18, 2009

What they claim concerning Peter

Calvin's Institutes (1559)
Book 4 of 4 - External Means by which God Invites Us into the Society of Christ and Holds Us Therein

Chapter 6 - Primacy of the Roman See
8-10 - Jesus the only king
8. Peter was first, as a moderator or chairman of the 12 apostles, not over the whole world. Bees and cranes select a natural leader, but only in their small company, not over the whole world of bees or cranes. It is true a kingdom can't have two kings.
9. "Christ is the Head:" Eph 4:15-16. Scripture nowhere transfers this office to a mortal - Eph 1:22; 4:15; 5:23; Col 1:18; 2:10. So any human vice-regent is excluded, by this.
10. If the papacy were legit, Eph 4:4-5, 11-12 would mention it.

11-15 - Peter and Rome, in history
11. Even if Peter was bishop in Rome, that doesn't mean Rome should be the primary bishopric now.
12. Peter's first location was Antioch, so the papal authority either goes with the person (which they no longer want to claim) or with the place (which it didn't when Peter moved from Antioch to Rome, in their view), or a mixture, arbitrarily.
13. Why wouldn't Antioch be second, still, if the principle is the founding apostle of the town? That obviously isn't the principle, as Ephesus (John), and Jerusalem (James) were both passed over for Alexandria (Mark, not even an apostle).
14. But Peter wasn't in Rome long, or early, as Paul says in Gal 1-2 that he was in Jerusalem for at least 20 years after Christ's ascension. And Paul doesn't mention him in Rom 15:25; 16:3-16.
15. If Peter was at Rome when Paul got there and was tried, Peter didn't stand with Paul - 2 Tim 4:16. Peter was apostle to the Jews; Paul to Gentiles, so focusing on Peter is off base - Gal 2:7-9.

16-17 - Rome honored, but not as unifying head
16. It was honored from ancient time as (1) the reputed home of Peter; (2) the capital of the empire, thus surpassing other cities in excellence; and as (3) more calm in doctrine and spirit than Eastern and African cities, making it a haven fled and looked to for guidance.
17. When the patristic fathers appeal to church unity, they do NOT appeal to one bishopric over all others.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Not just Peter

Calvin's Institutes (1559)
Book 4 of 4 - External Means by which God Invites Us into the Society of Christ and Holds Us Therein

Chapter 6 - Primacy of the Roman See
1-7 - Refuting assumptions about Peter's primacy
1. Primacy of the Roman bishop as pope is central to Rome's view of the church. They define schism as leaving this authority.
2. Rome says Israel's high priest is precedent for a pope. But the high priesthood was a type of Christ (Heb 7:12), not of the pope; Christ alone has this title of high priest, since the role is one of appeasing God.
3. Christ told only Peter to feed His sheep (John 21:15), and that on Peter Christ would build His church (Matt 16:18). But Peter tells all other elders to feed Christ's sheep - 1 Pet 5:2. The power to bind and loose isn't to rule the whole world, but to preach and discipline according to the Gospel - John 20:23; 2 Cor 5:18; 10:6.
4. "Nothing is here given to Peter which was not also common to his colleagues [the apostles]." See Matt 18:18; John 20:23. Jesus didn't speak only to Peter at times in order to prefer him to the others, but to emphasize the unity of them all together.
5. Maybe the honor of first rank was given Peter, but not an authority surpassing the others.
6. Christ is the one foundation of the Church - 1 Cor 3:11.
7. Peter follows the Jerusalem council, and doesn't write alone, or by his own authority, but by the assembly's - Acts 15. His actions in Acts 8:14 show he is "not in authority over against [the other apostles]." Paul's whole point in Galatians 1-2 is that he is Peter's equal, and not subject to him - Gal 1:18; 2:8, 11-14.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A den of robbers; seekers of filthy lucre

Calvin's Institutes (1559)
Book 4 of 4 - External Means by which God Invites Us into the Society of Christ and Holds Us Therein

Chapter 5 - Papal Corruption of Church Government
11-19 - Corruption prevails among church officers
11. As to bishops and rectors, real offices, they think "that he who has never seen a sheep of his flock is the shepherd of it."
12. Gregory complained of this already, and Bernard did, too.
13. Roman church officers are "a robber's den in which thieves riot... brazenly without law and restraint." "Their rule is the despotism of Antichrist." Bishops are mostly "rude asses who do not grasp even the... rudiments of faith, or sometimes big boys fresh from their nursemaid."
14. They are "notorious in excess, effeminacy, voluptuousness... skillful in every deceit, fraud, treason, and treachery.... arrogance, pride, greed, and cruelty.... The world is so wearied with bearing these abuses that there is no danger that I should seem to exaggerate unduly." 99 out of 100 would be excommunicated or deposed in the ancient church.
15. Deacons served only in trifles around worship ritual, not care of the poor and alms. It's just a "step toward the priesthood.... Today the poor get nothing more of those alms than if they were cast into the sea."
16. They steal from the poor; "the entire administration of church property has plainly turned into sacrilegious plundering."
17. They try to excuse their lavish excess from Ps 72:10-11; Isa 52:1; 60:6-7.
18. Buildings, statues, vessels and vestments come before care of the poor.
19. As Jerome said, "the glory of the bishop is to provide for the poor; the disgrace of all priests, to seek after their own riches."

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Idle Bellies

Calvin's Institutes (1559)
Book 4 of 4 - External Means by which God Invites Us into the Society of Christ and Holds Us Therein

Chapter 5 - Papal Corruption of Church Government
1-3 - Unqualified installed without vote of people
1. Let's consider the state of Rome now in these things. Bishops have little sacred learning today - more legal. The ancient church would have decreed most of these morally unfit. Boys as young as 10 are appointed!
2. Rome no longer presents bishops to the church for approval: "to be adored, not to be examined." They appeal to canon (church) law, but the Word of God should prevail.
3. When the people let the presbyters take over bishops' elections they wrote it inot canon law. Then princes began to intervene, as a power grab, which worked because it only went against church laws, not against the people.

4-7 - Financial Abuses with appointments to clerical office
4. Bishops now say only they can appoint presbyters, and they make "not presbyters to lead and feed the people, but preists to perform sacrifices." Ordination always brings pastoral responsibility, whether elder or deacon, said the Chalcedon Council. But Rom elooks only to the financial support of the priest.
5. Priests are ordained but assigned no people or place to pastor - only to perform sacrifices. They can't translate a single verse, but are approved "proveded they bear some commendation of money or favor."
6. Offices are almost always given through simony, by someone's "indirect commendation," "not to benefit the churches but those men who receive them."
7. Often one man (or boy) holds 5 or 6 offices (church positions). The only care they have for the office is "to receive their revenues." They do this, flouting the Word and common sense.

8-10 - Negligence and idleness of monks, and other clerics
8. They say monks are presbyters, when Gregory and Jerome both denied and resisted this. They don't let monks administer sacraments, and they don't mix with the people, yet they give the the title (and money).
9. Priests are either receiving a livin by simony or hire themselves out to the people, "in the hawking of masses." But "no place is given them for teaching; they have no people to govern."
10. Other offices sing and perform rituals, nothing to do with shepherding people - so we can't call them pastors.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Ancient church government

Calvin's Institutes (1559)
Book 4 of 4 - External Means by which God Invites Us into the Society of Christ and Holds Us Therein

Chapter 4 - Early Church life and government
1-4 - Development of the ministry
1. The ancient church did not wander far from Scripture. They didn't multiply offices as Rome later did.
2. The bishop presiding over the presbyters came about by human need for order, not divine mandate. He remained subject to the assembled presbyters.
3. The main job of bishops and presbyters was preaching and teaching the Word.
4. Archbishops and patriarchs were established for order and discipline, not as hierarchical principalities.

5-9 - Deacons
5. Deacons were in charge of caring for the poor under the bishop's supervision.
6. The church's possessions were considered the "patrimony of the poor." Ministers also could receive from the church - 1 Cor 9:14; Gal 6:6 - but not to excess, and not if their family could support them instead.
7. The church set up rules for disbursing church income, after it became abused. 4 parts were assigned: for the bishop to use in hospitality and his own house, for the clergy, for the poor, and for the repair of church buildings.
8. They quickly dispensed with church gold and silver to feed the poor.
9. Other offices arose - clerics, door-keepers, acolytes, sub-deacons - which were for recruits to the minister's office more than church offices themselves.

10-15 - History of relationship between people and clergy
10. The church would meet to choose pastors, with the consent of the people. There were remedies for evil elders, in the church canons (regulations).
11. The people had to ratify bishops appointed.
12. But the elders didn't need to follow the whim of the crowd, either.
13. This procedure lasted until Gregory, and for a while after. The emperor could veto, in Rome or Constantinople, which may also be a good thing, as long as the church didn't fall routinely to the emperor's whim and prejudice.
14. Ordination required a vote to confirm him, and an examination.
15. Gradually, bishops went to the major cities to seek ordination, rather than to the local assemblies. This was not a good move. Ordination was by laying on of hands. Bishops ordained presbyters and deacons in his jurisdiction; presbyters had the same authority as bishops, except the right to ordain.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Ministers of Sound Doctrine and Holy Life

Calvin's Institutes (1559)
Book 4 of 4 - External Means by which God Invites Us into the Society of Christ and Holds Us Therein

Chapter 3 - Doctors and Ministers of the Church
10-16 - Calling of ministers
10. All things are to be done in good order in the church - 1 Cor 14:40 - but especially establishing right government of it. One must be called by God and others, and then respond - Heb 5:4.

11. Each minister has a secret call they sense from the Lord, and the church gives a separate, outward and public call to serve. The church's call is legit, even if the inner call is tainted or suspect, as long as the church is not aware of impropriety.

12. Who should be a minister? Titus 1:7; 1 Tim 3:1-7. Those "of sound doctrine and of holy life, not notorious in any fault." The church must see they are "adequate and fit to bear the burden imposed upon them." See Luke 21:15; 24:49; Mark 16:15-18; Acts 1:8. Ministers should be chosen with reverence and prayer - Acts 14:23; Isa 11:2.

13. Choosing of apostles in Acts 1:23-26 doesn't apply to us, as this was done to have all the apostles chosen not by men but directly by God - Gal 1:1, 12.

14. But even Saul's call included the church - Acts 13:2.

15. Titus and Timothy couldn't "arrange everything according to his own decision." Titus 1:5; 1 Tim 5:22. Elders were elected by show of hands, not appointed by one person - see the Greek in Acts 14:23. A lawful call to ministry requires the consent and approval of the congregation.

16. There is no direct command to lay hands on a minister in ordaining him, but it is described throughout Scripture, in broader application - Gen 48:14; Matt 19:15; Num 8:12; Acts 19:6. It serves "to warn the one ordained that he is no longer a law unto himself, but bound in servitude to God and the church." So it isn't an empty or superstitious ceremony - 2 Tim 1:6; 1 Tim 4:14.

Pastors, elders and deacons

Calvin's Institutes (1559)
Book 4 of 4 - External Means by which God Invites Us into the Society of Christ and Holds Us Therein

Chapter 3 - Doctors and Ministers of the Church
4-9 - Church offices described
4. The 5 offices in Eph 4 are apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher. The last two are ordinary offices. God "now and again revives [the first three] as the need of the times demands." Apostles preached the gospel in new places, sent by Christ - Matk 16:15; Rom 15:19-20; 1 Cor 3:10. Prophets aren't all interpreters of the Word, but excelling in revelation. They "either do not exist today or [are] less commonly seen." Evangelists are next to apostles, with the same function, but not the twelve - Luke 10:1; Matt 10:1. These offices have no place in the daily life of the church, though God may raise up the office from time to time [as he did in Luther, Calvin thought]. Teachers do not discipline or administer sacraments. Pastors do both, and teach.

5. Pastors and apostles have the same charge, as do prophets and teachers. Apostles were set apart "to put forth a new and unheard-of thing:" Matt 10:1; Luke 6:13; Gal 1:1.

6. Apostles were to preach the gospel and administer the sacraments - Matt 28:19; Luke 22:19. So are pastors - 1 Cor 4:1; Titus 1:9. Preaching is private, not only public - Acts 20:20-21. Pastors "have been set over the church not to have a sinecure but... to instruct the people to true godliness, to administer the sacred mysteries and to keep and exercise upright discipline." See Ezek 3:17-18; 1 Cor 9:16-17. So, "what the apolstes performed for the whole world, each pastor ought to perform for his own flock."

7. Each pastor should be assigned his church. He can help elsewhere, but shouldn't "dash about aimlessly... forsaking their churches at pleasure." Ministers and elders assigned their places: Acts 14:22-23; Titus 1:5; Phil 1:1; Col 4:17; Acts 20:18-19.

8. Scripture uses interchangeably the terms bishop, presbyter, pastor and minister - Titus 1:5, 7; Acts 20:17, 28. Other offices of power, healing, interpretation, government and caring for the poor are listed in Rom 12:7-8; 1 Cor 12:28. Only the last two are permanent, the others temporary and past. Governors - 1 Cor 12:28; Rom 12:8 - "discipline along with the bishops."

9. "Care of the poor was entrusted to the deacons." Some administer the finances, others have direct contact with the poor - Rom 12:8; 1 Tim 5:9-10. Acts 6:1-4 describes the origin of these deacons.

Pastoral office is necessary to preserve the church on earth

Calvin's Institutes (1559)
Book 4 of 4 - External Means by which God Invites Us into the Society of Christ and Holds Us Therein

Chapter 3 - Doctors and Ministers of the Church
1-3 - Ministry given by God; its functions
1. Christ alone is head, but He exercises authority through other men, since "He does not dwell among us in visible presence." He could do without us, or work through angels, but "He prefers to do it by means of men." Why? Because He has regard for us as His temple - 1 Cor 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Cor 6:16. It exercises our humility, to have to hear Him "through men like us and sometimes even by those of lower worth than we." See 2 Cor 4:7. It binds us together, to "receive the common teaching from one mouth." "For if anyone were sufficient to Himself and needed no one else's help (such is the pride of human nature), each man would despise the rest and be despised by them." See Eph 4:4-8, 10-16.

2. This ministry is the chief sinew holding the body of Christ together. It destroys the church to argue against this order.

3. "The dignity of the ministry" of preaching is seen in Isa 52:7; Matt 5:13-14; Luke 10:16; 2 Cor 4:6; 3:9. An angel directed Cornelius to Peter, and Paul to Ananias, for preaching - Acts 10:3-6; 9:6.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

AntiChrist, sitting in the Temple...

Calvin's Institutes (1559)
Book 4 of 4 - External Means by which God Invites Us into the Society of Christ and Holds Us Therein

Chapter 2 - Comparing the false and true church
7-11 - Rome resembles Israel under Jeroboam
7. They had the truth, but fell from it to corruption.

8. There was a trace of the church left, as they fell away in degrees.

9. Rome is WORSE than Israel under Jeroboam, for Israel's sacrifices themselves were not corrupt. Thus, the prophets did not and didn't need to separate and set up separate pure worship. But Rome's worship is inherently idolatrous in their Mass. And they demand we participate in it, and honor Rome as much as Christ does His church. "The communion of the church ought not to extend so far that, if it degenerates into profane and corrupted rites, they have to follow it headlong."

10. There were times when the prophets declared Israel's assemblies profane (Isa 1:14), and "had to depart from agreement with those assemblies." If Rome is a true church, we must submit to their legit power of the keys. But they are disowning genuine believers!

11. Like a building demolished, Rome is still a church, with a recognizable foundation and ruins. "Their treachery could not obliterate His faithfulness, and circumcision could not be so profaned by their unclean hands as to cease to be the true sign and sacrament of His covenant." God still counted Israel His children, in the midst of their deepest idolatry - Ezek 16:20-21. The main thing still standing is "baptism," which "retains its force despite the impiety of men."

12. But this doesn't make Rome the one true church. Doctrine is also important to the "true and lawful constitution of the church," which this argument is really about. The pope is the antichrist, sitting in the church - Dan 9:27; 2 Thess 2:4 - where "Christ lies hidden, half buried, the gospel overthrown, piety scattered, the worship of God nearly wiped out. Rome has "churches to the extent that the Lord... preserves in them a remnant of His people." But they "lack the lawful form of the church," as their doctrine confounds the gospel.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

We withdrew from Rome to come to Christ

Calvin's Institutes (1559)
Book 4 of 4 - External Means by which God Invites Us into the Society of Christ and Holds Us Therein

Chapter 2 - Comparing the false and true church
1-6 - Departing from true doctrine and worship, Rome's claim to be the true church is false
1. The apostles taught to "entrust salvation to Christ alone." This is the foundation of the church - Eph 2:20; 1 Tim 3:15.

2. Rome is full of lies, idolatry and sacrilege. There is no danger of leaving the church in leaving this. They say any who leave are schismatics, based on their history of succession of bishops. What about Greece [Eastern Orthodox], then? Rome's condemnation of Greece is a vain pretense.

3. Rome is presumptuous, like Israel used to be. Jer 7:4; Rom 9-11; Gal 4:22. Rome has no boast in outward signs or antiquity, as Ishmael was circumcised and older than Isaac. Caiaphas wasn't a true priest just because he succeeded in an unbroken line from Aaron! "Nothing is more absurd than to lodge the succession in persons alone to the exclusion of teaching."

4. Rome scares the simple asserting temples and priests, but the Church is found where the Word is heard - John 18:37; 10:4-5, 14, 27; 8:47. "Those are lying words by which the Kingdom of Christ is imagined to exist apart form His scepter (that is, His most holy Word)."

5. The church is held together by "agreement in sound doctrine and brotherly love." Heretics violate the truth; schismatics violate the loving fellowship. Our fellowship can only be genuine if "our minds agree in Christ." Eph 4:5; Phil 2:1, 5; Rom 15:5.

6. The church is one in Christ's headship alone. Her various members are "indivisible" with one another and with Him. We separated from Rome because they couldn't "bear the pure profession of truth.... it behooved us to withdraw from them that we might come to Christ."

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

They allow pardon for no sin

Calvin's Institutes (1559)
Book 4 of 4 - External Means by which God Invites Us into the Society of Christ and Holds Us Therein
Chapter 1 - The True Church with which as Mother of All the Godly We Must Keep Unity

23-29 - Forgiveness illustrated
23. Some say if you fall from the first forgiveness you received at your conversion, you are lost. This is wrong. God calls us to confess our sins daily in the Lord's Prayer. He tells us to forgive each other 70 times 7, because that is what He does with us.

24. In the church's infancy, during the patriarchs' lifetimes, they committed grievous sins (Gen 37:18, 28; 34:25; 38:16; 2 Sam 11:4, 15), but were forgiven by God (2 Sam 12:13).

25. The law and prophets show forth God's continual forgiveness. Jer 3:1, 12; Ezek 18:23, 32; 33:11; 1 Kings 8:46-50; Num 28:3.

26. God wouldn't remove this with Christ's coming in fullness of grace. Titus 1:9; 3:4; 2 Tim 1:9; 2 Cor 5:18. Peter was told not to deny Christ - Matt 10:33; Mark 8:38 - he did anyway - Matt 26:74 - and was still forgiven - Luke 22:32; John 21:15.

27. The Galatians and Corinthians erred and sinned horribly. They were not cut off from grace, but were called to repentance - Gal 3:1; 4:9; 2 Cor 12:21. The church is always offered mercy - Ps 89:30-33.

28. Others say only willful sin is unforgivable. They "allow pardon for no sin, except one that is an error of ignorance." But the law granted atonement for both - Lev 6:1; 4. Other examples of willful sin forgiven - 2 Sam 11; Gen 37:18; 1 Cor 5; Matt 26:74.

29. The early church "made pardon very difficult... to deter others." But the Word says not to push so hard - 2 Cor 2:7.